Canada Reads is a CBC television show that promotes Canadian writers and books. It sets up a competion of books gleaned from a longer list, which are picked for a theme that changes each year. Five of these books will make the cut for the competition and will each be defended by a notable Canadian. One book will end up the winner with the others eliminated over the course of 5 days/episodes of debates. I was aware of this but last winter I paid more attention to it, and even watched a bit of each day’s debates.
I did find it odd that the show aired during the daytime with repeats in the evening. If you couldn’t watch during the day, you might get the results for that episode spoiled before you could watch in the evening. That was my only objection. It was very interesting though I admit I hadn’t read any of the books. They announce a long list before Christmas and the shortlist is going to be announced January 31 with the debate episodes airing on March 27 – 30 this year. That gives you time to read some or all of the five books if you want to. Mind you, if you aren’t planning to buy the books, getting them from the library might be difficult as there may be a lengthy waiting list for them.
This year’s theme is “a book all Canadians should read” and I would imagine that the debates will focus on why it’s important for Canadians to read each particular book. Judging from the descriptions of the longlisted books, though, some of the selections seem a bit surprising and not something I would have thought would be a book so important that everyone should read it. They’ve also included a variety of genres including Science Fiction/Fantasy and poetry.
The host of the competition is Ali Hassan, an actor and stand up comedian. I only know him from when he was a comedy panelist on the old talk show George Strombolopolous and I can’t remember what I thought of him on the show.
You can delve around the CBC site for Canada Reads here, where there is more detail about the books and authors including past lists and winners. You might find some pretty good books that you might like to read. The page on the site that lists the contenders, the short list and the people that will defend them will be updated later this week after the announcement on Tuesday.
Here is the longlist of books. I’ve marked with a * the ones I think I might be interested to read. I will be interested to see which books make the cut and who the defenders will be and I might try to get hold of some of the books to read ahead of time. Two months to read five books, I could probably do it!
- The Break by Katherena Vermette (Mystery, various ethnic perspectives) *
- Company Town by Madeline Ashby (sci/fi, mystery)
- The Elephants in My Backyard by Rajiv Surendra (memoir) *
- even this page is white by Vivek Shraya (poetry, with racism as the theme)
- Fifteen Dogs by André Alexis (fantasy, Giller prize winner 2015)
- I Am Woman by Lee Maracle (First Nations heritage and women’s empowerment)
- The Just City by Jo Walton (Fantasy) *
- Knucklehead by Matt Lennox (crime drama)
- Nostalgia by M.G. Vassanji (Scifi) *
- One Hour in Paris by Karyn L. Freedman (memoir, a woman is raped in Paris)
- Quantum Night by Robert J. Sawyer (SciFi, Psychological thriller)
- The Right to Be Cold by Sheila Watt-Cloutier (Non fiction, climate control effects)
- Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel (Fantasy) *
- Today I Learned It Was You by Edward Riche (satire) *
- Waiting for First Light by Roméo Dallaire, with Jessica Dee Humphreys (memoir)
The ones I’ve read are The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill (really liked it), Best Laid Plans by Terry Fallis (quite good), A Complicated Kindness by Miriam Toews (quite good). I’ll blog again when the short list and personalities are announced.